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University releases guidelines on speech and expression

Amber Colón

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President Rev. Dennis H. Holtschneider sent an email to members of the DePaul University community late Friday introducing the new Guiding Principles of Speech and Expression, which have been under revision since September 2016.

The guidelines were unanimously endorsed by the Guiding Principles on Free Speech and Expression Task Force that discussed questions of free speech on campus. As DePaul University is a private institution, the university may choose how it follows the First Amendment.

The document, which is available for public viewing, includes a total of seven guidelines that speak to how speech on campus will ultimately mirror the university’s mission, which is to “continuously and actively amplify marginalized voices and to create opportunities for conversations that advance social justice.”

According to the document, DePaul “affirm the right of individuals to express their viewpoints, even at the risk of controversy.”

“At the same time, we also recognize that speech and expression that serves only to threaten or intimidate does not further these goals.”

The university’s decision to rescind an invitation to host speaker Gavin McInnes. On May 17, Holtschneider sent an email to students and staff to notify them of the university’s decision to disinvite McInnes based on his public endorsement of the use of violence against protesters.

The new Guiding Principles for Speech and Free Expression have officially been implemented just over a year after Milo Yiannopoulos was invited to speak on campus. Since then, students, faculty and staff have been involved in discussions about free speech and what that means.

Recommendations were then forwarded to Holtschneider for implementation after work was completed for the new guiding principles on May 12.

The Task Force is made up of members of Faculty Council, Staff Council and the Student Government Association and will reconstitute membership for next academic year, while a number of members from the present Task Force to will remain.

The Task Force will work to provide education and consultation on the new principles, regarding how they can be integrated into university activities, policies and procedures, such as this past year’s Race and Free Speech Speaker Series, implemented by the Office of the President in collaboration with Academic Affairs.

The University did not respond to a request for comment.

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University releases guidelines on speech and expression